Climate Change and Water Quality in the Great Lakes Region: Risks, Opportunities, and Responses
From the Introduction:
Climate provides fundamental limits on and opportunities for human activities and ecosystem functioning within the Great Lakes region. A changing climate could lead to alterations in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods; water supply; air, soil, and water quality; ecosystem health; human health; and resource use and the economy. Climate change may act through multiple pathways; interactions in and impacts on the Great Lakes ecosystem can be dynamic and non-linear. Within the Great Lakes watershed, there are already numerous stressors that cause ecosystem change including land use change, pollution, eutrophication, invasion of exotic species, and acid precipitation. A changing climate should be considered as another agent of change acting in concert with other ecosystem stresses.
Recognizing that this emerging issue required a survey of the potential impacts and the ability to adapt, the Great Lakes Water Quality Board commissioned a white paper to explore the implications of a changing climate on the Great Lakes watershed (Figure 1-1). The white paperaddresses four broad questions:
- What are the Great Lakes water quality issues associated with climate change?
- What are the potential impacts of climate change on the “beneficial uses” in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement?
- How might these impacts vary across the Great Lakes?
- What are the implications for decision-making?